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Anne's Pregnancy Journal

37 weeks 5 days
~ Drum retreat, Happy Couple

Well, if this baby can't come until everything gets done, it might never get here!

We did so well getting our to-do list done through October, but it's been all downhill from there. We still have our stuff in the baby's room, and the side of our bedroom that the co-sleeper will go on is still full of stuff. If we don't do something, this baby will end up in the dresser drawer for a while!

Of course, we still went away for the weekend, but not to the same place.

Matt's birthday was Friday, and he went with a couple of friends to Washington, DC to see some concerts. Friday night, he enjoyed another Phil & Friends show (that'd be Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, if you didn't know). Those are always pretty good, and I know that was a good birthday night for him. However, if it's possible, Phil was trumped by a cover band!

Saturday's show was Dark Star Orchestra, possibly the best Grateful Dead cover band around. These guys typically pick a day in Dead history and play that set list, complete with the stylistic nuances of the time period in which the show occurred. When I've seen these guys, it really is almost a close-your-eyes-and-you're-there experience, and they just get better each year. They have a woman who tours with them sometimes, which allows them to pick shows from the time period in which Donna Godchaux was singing with the Dead. Well, this show was the 3rd annual Black Tie-Dye Ball, and they did an original set with a special guest - Donna Godchaux herself! Matt said it was one of the best shows he has ever been to. He taped it, so I got to listen to it when I got home from my weekend.

Yeah, my weekend! That's right, this is MY journal. Heh.

I was at a drum birthing retreat. What, you may ask, is a drum birthing retreat? I'm glad you asked! It is (in this case) a women's retreat weekend in which we journey, process, share, and ultimately make a drum. The woman who organizes these, Cyndy Paige (Snakedancer) is a wonderful medicine woman (my appellation, not necessarily hers). She lovingly guided nine women through four journeys and group process from Friday night through Sunday evening. At the end of the weekend, I had a brand new view of myself and my baby, plus, almost a bonus; I had a beautiful maple and elk-hide drum made by my own hands. The process was deeply personal, and so I'm happy to share about that, but offline. Likewise, I'll be happy to share my drum's story - how I came to her and her purpose - on request.

Besides being profoundly moving, the weekend was a lot of fun! The other women were amazing to be with, and when I came upstairs on Sunday morning, they were the first to notice that my baby had dropped. REALLY dropped. My profile was definitely not the same. Now, this is exciting stuff! That's one domino down on the set-up to babytime, so in my mind, the clock is ticking for sure. What a nice start to a Sunday!

When I finally got home on Sunday night, Matt was back from DC, looking absolutely exhausted. Apparently he looked that way partly because he was worried. The original schedule for the retreat had been to end around 4 pm, but Cyndy had said that it could go much later than that, depending on the group dynamic. I got home around 7, and Matt had somehow missed it when I told him 4 was a very, very soft end time. Anyway, I was home, and he was relieved. Hey, sometimes it's nice to know someone worries about you when you aren't home on time, especially when you tend to be the worrier in the family.

It seems that most of the other days this week are a blur, at least in terms of what's needed to get done that hasn't. I've been trying to make good use of my time during they day, with little success. I'm needing a bit more rest than usual, and I'm tending to wake up earlier and earlier because my tummy won't let me sleep in (it growls at me!). Some days I find that I'm really motivated to get errands run, and then I inadvertently run myself into the ground. Other days, I get just a few things done in a day - and I still feel worn out! But, I'm just as likely to still be up, wired, at 1 am. Go figure.

Some of the stress of the last month or two prompted us to schedule some appointments with the marriage counselor we'd been seeing previously. Clearly, we have turned some kind of corner, because I think we got more done in that session than we have in months. We found ourselves in the middle of a really great inquiry about some fundamental dynamics in our relationship at the end of the session, and so we opted to schedule another one for next week (baby willing).

We've really enjoyed the process, if that makes sense, in part because it's not the run of the mill compromise negotiation that marriage counseling can devolve into. Our guy, Walt, works from the Imago perspective, pioneered by Harville Hendrix, which takes the perspective that we always choose the perfect partner, warts and all, so that we can help heal what was wounded, and learn to stretch and expand in areas where we need more development. I really love this perspective, because it starts with the assumption that we, as partners, are agents of healing for one another. That makes conflict a valid path to healing, and not just a problem. Much more constructive from where I sit! (If you're married and want more info, read Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix. If you're not married, the book you want is Keeping the Love You Find.)

You may recall that Mondays are usually date night for me and Matt, so after our session, we went to dinner. The whole conversation is a total blur, but I do remember that it was deep, enlightening, and healing. Something has really shifted in our relationship, and that is making this last stretch of the pregnancy so much sweeter. Matt's engaged in the process, and he's been supportive of me in a way I haven't received before. I think he'd agree I'm able to be there for him differently, too. Sometimes, therapy really pays off.

One payoff has been Matt coming to prenatal appointments. YAY! It was such a struggle before, but now, he's coming to all he can. Why? Because I said it was important to me. Wow. That finally sank in, and when it did, that was all it took. So Tuesday he accompanied me to my prenatal. The midwives were pleased he came, and they remembered that he'd been planning to go to concerts on the weekend and asked him all about it. (I think he liked that!) Of course, baby and mom are doing great, and the midwives confirmed that the baby has definitely dropped. They don't do many internal exams at all, usually just one towards the end to get a baseline in case they need to know. Tuesday was that day, and my cervix was already soft, 20% effaced, and dilated a fingertip externally. Cervical changes - one more domino!

Even the drive up to the appointment was productive. Later in the afternoon, I was having a visit from the post-partum doula we hired, Leila, and I hadn't finished the paperwork. I knew that the decisions about how to manage post-partum care were ones Matt and I needed to make together, so he drove, I wrote. Again, pleasantly surprised by my husband. He's really taking on making sure the household runs so that I can devote the lion's share of my attention to the baby and to my healing. I just hope he remembers that he will need to have baby time, too. And, that's part of why we're lining up family and friends to feed us and clean up for us, and why we are hiring a doula to make sure we're on track and have the information we need to be confident new parents. Of course, all that work made the meeting with Leila fairly smooth, and we have a good tentative schedule for care. Now all there is to do is wait for baby to arrive so we can set that in motion.

Later on, we attended a VIP dinner thrown by our chiropractor. (I think I vaguely remembered we were being recognized for something, but it had fallen off the radar screen by the time I got there.) Jen and Luis from our HypnoBirthing class were also there, and so Jen and I made quite a spectacle - two heavily pregnant women apparently unaware of their size. Hee hee! We also enjoyed the constant noshing that the hors d'oeuvre display allowed. We even got a great picture (on the chiropractor's camera, so I don't have a copy - bummer) of me and Jen with bellies exposed and stuck out towards each other - all in holiday party regalia. Woo hoo!

Wednesday brought a meeting with the lactation consultant at our pediatrician's office, which put me greatly at ease about my nursing knowledge. She noted that a lot of the so-called normal challenges with breastfeeding would not be part of my reality because I'm not birthing at the hospital. I knew that a lot of nursing issues can start with lack of support in the hospital, but I had no idea the extent of it. Once again, I feel fortunate to be planning a homebirth.

Later on, lunch with Hedra again put me at ease, as always. I don't know what I would do without those regular reality checks! I thought my day would be wrapped up with the last yoga class in the series I'd been going to. When I got home, there was a message from our friend Andy about coming over to have Matt help him with a presentation - Okay, I can handle that. Matt cut him a deal, too: I'll help you with your presentation, if you help me wrestle the car seat into Anne's car. Deal!

Not only did Andy help Matt with the car seat wrangling, but he also did our dishes while waiting for Matt to meet him at the house. Now that's a good friend. An aside about those car seats - how is it possible that there are only six steps in the manual for installation, but after a zillion readings of the manual, and hour of wiggling, leaning, and cussing, the darn thing still isn't installed correctly?? We shouldn't need engineering degrees to cart our kids around.

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While they were working on the presentation, I decided to go out, clear off my back seat, and have a crack at it. I wish we'd taking a photo of me. My winter jacket doesn't even come close to zipping over my belly, and it was COLD outside! I grabbed Matt's ski jacket, which just fit, which had him standing at the front door when they were done, extremely perplexed about where his coat was, and then, why I was wearing it. I knew he had another jacket, but for the moment, he seemed to think he didn't. I guess you had to be there. After a few minutes, I got sent indoors with a "you shouldn't be out in this cold" from Andy, which Matt supported. That was fine, I was tired and ready for bed anyway.

So, today is Thursday, and it started with the car seat check at the DMV. The nice man at the DMV made sure I knew how to safely buckle my child into the seat, and then took a look at it, pronounced it unsafely installed. Yup. Coulda told you that would happen! And, then, in about 6 minutes proceeded to totally fix it up. Yup. Coulda predicted that, too. So, why did we spend all that time outside in freezing weather the night before even trying?? Matt will still need to install a seat in his car, but we'll get there eventually. In the meantime, we can manage with one car seat for one baby for a while.

After the DMV, I moved on to an early lunch with Beth. It feels like forever since we got to catch up, and I loved having that time with her. She also passed on a bag with her swimsuit to bring home for the birth stuff, in case she ends up in the tub with me. Lunch seemed too short, but I know we're good at connecting with the time we have. She was really happy to hear how sweetly things are going in my relationship with Matt and noted she wished that Matt and I would have more time together like that as a couple before the baby arrives. In the past, I would have agreed, but somehow, the timing seems right. As Walt noted on Monday, many couples don't even start the work of truly becoming a couple until after the children have arrived, so really, we're ahead of the game in a lot of ways.

I'll go for a massage later this afternoon, and then to the first meeting of the Newark, DE chapter of the Holistic Moms Network. I think that'll be a good community. Even the flyer says "Find Your Tribe," which is what it feels like. I'll keep you posted on that. In the meantime, it's definitely been a full week, with very few things scratched off the original list. There's snow coming tomorrow, so hopefully that will give me the indoor time to haul major butt! In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the warm fuzzies with my sweet husband and wiggling baby.

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